University of Connecticut

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Why We Teach: Workshop on Using African American Literature

Wednesday, November 8, 2017
10:00am – 12:00pm

Storrs Campus
Oak Hall, Room 408

Why We Teach: A Workshop on Using African American Literature to Challenge Racism

In the wake of white Nationalist Richard Spencer speaking recently at the University of Florida and near the University of Virginia, instructors must be prepared to combat racist speech, behavior, and thinking. This workshop will focus on how texts of African American literature can be used to prepare students and instructors to challenge racism inside and outside the classroom. Literature, which invites readers into the heads of characters, is a unique lens to oppose racism. As cognitive scientists have shown, literature can cultivate empathy in readers and may also lead to greater historical and social awareness of the complexity of racism and racist belief structures. An intended goal will be encouraging individuals to use more literary works in their classes about race and racism.

During the workshop each person will speak briefly (3-5 minutes) about a literary work (whether fiction or non-fiction) that they use in the classroom to challenge racist beliefs. Each person will bring copies of a 1-2 page excerpt from this text. We will then break into groups based on interests and, using the excerpts, work through pedagogical strategies used in the teaching of these works, including examination of key words and symbols, discussion activities, historical context alluded to, portrayals of racist beliefs, and the forceful counter ideologies of resistance put forward. A bibliography of primary and secondary materials will also be distributed.

Organized by Martha J. Cutter, Professor of English and Africana Studies, University of Connecticut

*Lunch Provided


Together (primary), Africana Studies Institute, English Department, UConn Master Calendar

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